What’s so Special about Siesta Key?
Easily accessible by one of two bridges connecting to the mainland of Sarasota, Siesta Key is an 8-mile long, crescent-shaped barrier island with four main areas – Siesta Beach, Crescent Beach, Turtle Beach, and Siesta Key Village.
Siesta Key is known for its absolutely gorgeous beaches. While the sand on most beaches is composed of a mix of quartz and other minerals that give it a coarser texture and a darker color, the sand on the beaches at Siesta Key is 99% quartz. This means it’s always silky in texture and cool to the touch, even during the hottest days of the summer.
The Siesta Key area is filled with natural beauty along with plenty of dining and shopping options, as well as a variety of area attractions. Just minutes from the city of Sarasota, Siesta Key is a more intimate location to relax, while Sarasota offers a more high-energy vacation.
Getting Around Siesta Key
There are several ways visitors can get around Siesta Key.
Three open-air trolleys (including one that runs right by The Anchorage), run 7 days a week from 8 am until midnight between Turtle Beach to Siesta Village.
Other ways to get around Siesta Key is Jonny’s Original Rides, a service that connects Siesta key Village at the north end of the island to Turtle Beach on the south. It operates daily from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. These electric vehicles are easy to spot with their bright green stripes. Jonny’s provides a fun, safe and eco-friendly trip for riders of all ages, whatever the season and weather. Operating like a taxi service, pick-up and drop-off services are on all three beaches on Siesta Key, along with the island’s most popular destinations.
Jonny’s also offers a delivery service for restaurants and they deliver groceries for Crescent Beach Grocery for a small fee.
Siesta Key Free Rides operates a fleet of six-seater electric vehicles that look like golf carts but have enough storage room to cart around coolers, shopping bags, and strollers.
Or, you can always walk. The Anchorage is within walking distance of a wide variety of shopping and restaurants.
Siesta Key Goes Hollywood
And if you like movies, the Siesta Key area has provided beautiful shooting locations for some of Hollywood’s most popular films such as Great Expectations, The Greatest Show on Earth and Just Cause. And most recently it’s the subject and shooting location for the MTV reality show of the same name.
Siesta Key History
Prior to the 20th century, Siesta Key used to be infested with mosquitoes, snakes, shrubs and wild boars. It wasn’t a place a lot of people wanted to inhabit. But by the turn of the century, a few brave visitors with vision settled there. And things began to change.
In 1906 a man who went by Captain Roberts, along with his wife, converted their large boarding home into a hotel. They began hosting visitors from the north during the wintertime. The people who stayed at the hotel loved Mrs. Roberts’ cooking so much that word began to spread. Soon, people from all over the country, including Hollywood celebrities and politicians, began staying there, just to taste her food.
Captain Roberts saw the success of their hotel and teamed up with two partners to form the Siesta Land Company. They soon mapped out the island and renamed it Siesta Key, which sounded a lot better than the area’s previous names of Clam Island, Little Sarasota Island and Sarasota Key.
Harry Higel was one of the men with whom Captain Roberts partnered. Higel was mayor of Sarasota and had a vision for Siesta Key. As a developer, he wanted to make the area into a place filled with tourist attractions. He launched an aggressive advertising plan, dug three canals through the Siesta Village area, connecting them to the bay.
After development slowed down during and after the Great Depression, it picked back up in the ‘40s and ‘50s after a few well-known artists moved to the island. It also helped that architects Paul Randolph and Ralph Twitchell built a number of homes there, too.
Today, Siesta Key has a population of around 6,500 people and averages more than 350,000 visitors a year.